Want to know what was one of the biggest lessons I learned in the first 6 months I started as a Virtual Assistant?
You’ve come to the right place. There were a lot of lessons I learned, and I’m still learning, but hands down let me tell you what was one of the biggest lessons I learned:
Building trust with your leads.
Who has ever heard of that before? Guess what? I never had, but now I’m learning. “What does that even mean?”, you ask. It came in different forms, but I learned that not all leads are good leads, just like not all clients are good clients. Maybe you’ve discovered this in your journey like me, but have you ever had a lead come up that seemed so promising and then turned out to be a disappointment? There are several ways this can happen, but let me give you a few examples.
1. A promising lead sent me a reply. We had several conversations, we seemed to really hit it off and be on the same wavelength. I knew I had this client in the bag. I was budgeting my new monthly predictions for business income, brainstorming on the new projects I spoke about with the lead, but then….everything halted.
2. A similar scenario happened, but this time I had spent more time with this potential client, and even neglected some work with loyal clientele to get a solid proposal in this lead’s hands.
3. In this case, I did all of the above with my “too good to be true” lead, but then they hired me! We did on-boarding, we spent time training, we chatted and made plans for the future of the client’s business….
Then, it stopped. Every single one had some reason that they couldn’t continue working with me. And, sadly, there are even more examples that I didn’t list. I started noticing a pattern.
Well, let’s put aside my work ethic for a moment, because let’s face it…if you are landing a lead because they initially liked you, but then losing them moments later….it’s extremely unlikely that you did anything to prove your work ethic invaluable. I mean, you hardly had time to drop the ball on anything, so we’re just going to put that aside, because that’s not what we’re talking about here. Yes, there is an appropriate time to evaluate your own inefficiencies and areas for improvement, but let’s focus on what really happened. Here’s what your feeling…
“I wasted time on this!”
“I thought we were going to work together for the next 3 months!”
“We already did training and onboarding…You’re telling me NOW that you can’t afford help?!”
“We hit it off so well!”
“What do you mean you had to let go of your whole team? And, now you can’t pay for your staff? How did you not account for that expense?”
“You seemed like a perfect client!”
“Yes, I know that you did see the contract, I got a notification that you opened it! It’s not possible that you didn’t know there was a contract!”
“Forget that I already sent you mockups for all the work we were going to do…”
“Oh yeah, no big deal…I sent you a proposal, got behind on like 3 different client projects, and had several discovery calls to make sure you were comfortable moving forward together. That’s time ‘well spent,’ right?”
Wrong. Don’t make this mistake. Don’t find yourself in these scenarios. Let’s troubleshoot to the root of the problem.
1.You put potential clients and leads higher in priority than your loyal clientele.
Big mistake. I know this seems pretty obvious, but how many times have you jumped at a new lead, and didn’t even realize you were giving current clients less priority for a moment? I started justifying the investment of my time to draw up a “quick” proposal, because it’s like a high ROI, right? Wrong. Never put potential money above guaranteed money. You know how those get-rich-quick schemes just don’t work? This is no different. It took time to build trust with your current clientele. It took time to build that client base, that solid foundation of reliable revenue, correct? This is no different. If a lead isn’t willing to wait and receive a proposal a few days after you chat, allowing you to take care of your clients adequately, then they are not the kind of client you want. Wouldn’t a quality lead, a potential client, be interested in your loyalty to serve your clients? Wouldn’t this potential client respect your work, your business, and the other clients you serve? Think about this…if they want you to drop everything at a moment’s notice, and they don’t want to schedule that discovery call at a more convenient time (let’s say, NOT on Mother’s Day)…it’s probably a good indicator that you would be treated that way and expected to operate your entire business at their beckon call. It’s likely that this is the red flag moment suggesting that their demands will wear you out! That’s not a potential client, that’s a potential disaster!
2. You forgot that relationships require trust.
It does not matter who it is. Relationships require trust. I’m not saying that we need to be hyper-paranoid, or unwilling to trust. We aren’t putting ourselves in the position to doubt everyone or be unwilling to expect a good outcome. When you turn a lead into a client, you are telling them that you want them in your life and in your business. Have you ever thought about it that way? Have you ever thought that you are choosing the clients you work with? When you get in a situation where you have a “crazy client,” did you stop to think that you asked them to work with you? You don’t have to accept everyone that comes knocking, and you probably shouldn’t. Now, let’s be real. There may always be an unexpected situation. There may always be a level of uncertainty. That’s ok. We can deal with that. You can take one situation at a time. What we don’t want happening is an unhealthy reoccurring event. Let’s talk about why…The obvious reason is that it is slowing you down. It’s making you a little inefficient, but most importantly it’s emotionally exhausting. It’s frustrating, but it can also be discouraging. It can deter your confidence, make you feel incapable, or zap your passion. It may make you mistrusting of future leads, or even clients. It’s devastating if you’re losing the ability to trust, instead of improving your ability to build trust. We’ve got to ensure that we are continuing our work, and the ethical practice of our business in positivity, trust, and hopeful engagement. We are working together. Which brings me to my next point….
3. The goal is to be looking out for the best interest of each party.
You did not do anything wrong. Neither did the lead. Stop making it about offense when it doesn’t work out! It’s imperative that we remain in the team spirit attitude. I am looking out for you, and you are also looking out for me. Of course, sometimes you just deal with people who are not that way. They don’t really care about you, heck, they don’t even care about themselves. Your responsibility is to remain in a place of respect and honor. You do your part, and expect them to do theirs. If you take time to develop your lead-potentially working together relationship, to the let’s-do-this partnership relationship, you are going to find that each party is excited and confident to move forward. This requires some real communication. I’m not insinuating that you have to lay it ALL out there. No, we’re not talking about everybody’s cards on the table. That is also an issue of trust. We are BUILDING trust. Only the relationships you choose may see all your cards on that table. It’s for you to decide as you cultivate the working relationship. But when it comes to honest communication, the intention is that both parties are informed and on the same page. Nobody likes a scammer. Nobody likes feeling betrayed, used, or misled. I want to make sure you’re a good client for me to pursue, and I want to make sure I’m a good resource for you to fulfill the goals of your project. It’s not my intention to give you something you don’t need! Honesty. If you want respectable clients, and respectable leads, you cannot forsake honesty and integrity in your salesmanship. Nobody likes a car salesman either. Speaking of which, have you noticed that cars salesmen are a little more approachable nowadays? They are a little more laid back and friendly in their approach to sales? Take note of that. The best way to build trust quickly is for both parties to say, “I am interested in YOUR best.” That is the character that requires risk! That is the risk required of trust! You’re giving your leads what is best, and it’s safe to expect that they should want what is best for you as well.
So with this, you will find that there is still the occasional disappointment. There are still bad eggs, and cold leads that grow warm, and then colder. But how much more satisfied would you be if you put these principles into practice? How much more confident would you be if you believe the golden rule is always superior? Treat others as you would want to be treated.
Invest most in those who are loyal to you. (And forgive those who are betray).
Remember that all relationships require trust. (Be determined to build trust, instead of fearing mistrust).
Be interested in what is good for others. (To also include yourself, that you deserve what is good too).
More on what building trust with your leads may look like….coming soon.